"Zwinger" Zwinger Tip by EasyMalc
Zwinger, Dresden: 96 reviews and 244 photos
If you like the excess of Baroque architecture you’ll love the Zwinger.
The word ‘Zwinger’ derives from the German word ‘Zwingen’ which means to constrain, and ‘Zwingenhof’ refers to the area between an outer and inner defensive castle wall where enemy troops could be trapped
Dresden’s fortifications evolved during the Middle Ages but by the time Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony, came to power in 1694 they weren’t as essential as they once were.
To improve his stature on the European stage Augustus set about transforming this area into something more in keeping with his ambitions. To start with the courtyard became an area for open air festivals and extravagant balls but the wooden structures used for these occasions were to be replaced by something more elaborate.
For this he used the expertise of architect Matthaus Daniel Poppleman and the sculptor Balthasar Permoser to carry out the work and the majority of what we see today is some truly wonderful Baroque architecture on three sides of the courtyard. The work was carried out between 1709 and 1728 with the formal opening occurring in time for the wedding of his son to the Archduchess Maria Josepha, daughter of the Habsburg Emperor in 1719.
The 4th side wasn’t completed until 1855 when the Sempergalerie finally completed the enclosure of the courtyard.
The main entrance to the Zwinger is through the Kronentor (which was under scaffolding when I was here) but it’s just as likely that you’ll enter through the Sempergalerie arch from Theaterplatz. If you do, you’ll see the Kronentor opposite with the Wallpavillon on your right.
The Wallpavillon is the most outstanding feature and it warrants a much closer look to see all its fine detail. It’s flanked by the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon which houses an important collection of scientific and technical instruments.
If you walk through the French Pavilion, to the right of the Wallpavillion, it will bring you out into the lovely Nymphenbad, an open courtyard with ornate water features and nymphs surrounding it inside scalloped shells.
At the complete opposite end of the Zwingerhof is a mirror image of the Wallpavillon. When it was built it was recognised that it could never surpass Popplemann’s original Wallpavillon and was subsequently fitted out with a Meissen glockenspiel which always seems to start chiming when you’re not expecting it. The Glockenspiel Pavilion houses one of the most important porcelain collections in the world.
If you haven’t spent long enough here already you can also visit the Armoury and Old Masters Gallery in the Sempergalerie.
One thing to remember though is that the Zwinger was severely damaged in the bombing raids of 1945 but the whole complex has been beautifully restored and in the summer months open air serenades are still performed. I can’t dance because I’ve got two left feet but I’d love to sit here and see those who can. It must be quite something.
Directions: The Altstadt
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